Tag Archives: young children

Establishing a Summer Learning Plan!

19 May

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It’s almost time for summer! As your kids prepare for freedom, they may not be aware that without use, a lot of the lessons they worked so hard to learn will begin to fade. Since you’ll be spending more time with your little ones, it’s important that a summer learning plan is introduced to prevent summer learning loss. Here are a few easy steps you can take to ensure your children continue to learn outside of the classroom:

 1. Ask your child’s teacher about a summer learning program.

Many times, teachers have already created summer learning activities, programs, or websites for children to engage with during the summer. Check with your child’s teacher to see what options are available. If nothing is in place or you want to delve a little deeper, we also have the following options:

 2. Break out the reading games to encourage early literacy.

Promoting early literacy over the summer is a necessity as reading is one of the biggest indicators of eventual academic success. We have plenty of fun literacy activities you can engage your children in for summer:

3. Take advantage of free community learning resources.

Many times, your community offers free learning opportunities for children that are just waiting to be taken advantage of! A couple of ideas could include:

  • signing your child up for a public library card
  • browsing local parks for nature centers
  • strolling through a nearby university campus
  • checking online to see when music festivals are coming near you or when museums and zoos are running specials for families

The learning possibilities are endless when you see the world through your child’s eyes!

4. Introduce math in everyday learning.

Math learning is all around us! Take time to be intentional in your day-to-day routine by finding opportunities for your children to practice counting, number recognition, and time telling. Some ideas could include adding up prices at the grocery store, counting time while waiting in line, or measuring ingredients while cooking. For even more ideas on how to incorporate financial literacy into everyday learning, check out our post: Small Ways to Teach Math Every Day!

5. Keeping active through imaginative play.

Putting precedence on active play is so important throughout the summer as many children’s natural inclination may be to become a couch potato! The outdoors just awaits adventure and children’s natural curiosity is just the beginning for science investigation. Whether it’s establishing a designated outdoor play time or gathering the family together for a fun game of basketball in the evenings, make sure active play is a part of your child’s summer schedule. Sports teams, trips to the park, and swimming pools are also great ways to keep little feet moving! Find a selection of cool outdoor summer toys here: https://www.kaplantoys.com/store/trans/search.asp?tbSearch=summer&sc1=1

6. Stress the importance of nutrition through starting a garden.

There’s no better way to get children excited about the healthier aspects of snack time than by starting a family garden! When children invest their time (and love) into growing plants, they are more appreciative when the vegetables and fruits spring up to provide a healthy snack. It’s also a great way to teach responsibility and provide an activity you can do together. For creative garden lessons you can teach preschoolers, check out Gardening: A Growing Process for Children.

We hope your summer kicks off to a great start! If you have any creative ways to keep children’s minds engaged while out of school, feel free to share by commenting below.

Fun Places to Get Caught Reading!

12 May

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May is Get Caught Reading Month! To promote early literacy in the household, especially as students gear up for summer, challenge your children to read in different places around the home. Make a game of seeing how many different places you can “catch” your child reading and take a picture each time. At the end of the month, you can see a collection of spots your children love to read, inspire a love of reading along the way, and encourage children to understand how different spaces can complement their overall reading experience! Get inspired with some of our favorite places to find children reading:

 1. A Space with a View

Whether it’s hanging out in a tree, sitting by a window, or lounging on the balcony, spaces that give children a view while they read can be all the more inspiring! There’s nothing like being reminded by the worlds within books that the world outside waits at children’s feet!

 KT Book Suggestions:

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 2. Spaces Filled with Friends

Many times, children find books more engaging when reading to an audience, whether it’s to friends or to teddy bears. Being comfortably surrounded by a familiar audience turns reading into a community experience and is a great way for children to take on a teaching role as they read aloud.

 KT Book Suggestions:

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 3. Outdoor Spaces

One exciting thing about reading outside is that children can find examples of what they’re reading about right in front of their eyes! Tree houses, jungle gyms, or picnic blankets are all great places children can sprawl to be inspired as they read!

 KT Book Suggestions:

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 4. Sensory Spaces

Reading in areas that give children an opportunity to use their other senses is a great way to complement the reading experience! Whether it’s reading near flowerbeds about spring, reading beside you in the kitchen as you cook, or dipping their feet in water as they learn about frog life cycles, sensory interactions will bring children’s stories to life!

 KT Book Suggestions:

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 5. Spaces Surrounded by Books

Many times, books are more like companions than simple pages. Young children can find comfort in being surrounded by walls lined with books, either in your home or at a library. It is also a great way for children to get excited about what they will read next!

 KT Book Suggestions:

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We hope you have fun looking forward to the many places you can find children reading. Wherever you may find them, knowing they are developing a love of reading is enough to make any parent smile!

Do you have creative ideas for spaces children can read? Share them with us on our Facebook page.

10 Toys to Keep Kids Moving!

28 Apr

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Keeping kids active is a necessity when it comes to raising healthy and happy kids. Along with proper nutrition, teaching children to properly exercise, whether it be through outdoor play or organized sports, is an important role of parents. Though health classes can be taught at school, lifelong habits are born in the home. Here are some toys we recommend that will ensure children keeping active at home:

1. 4″ Play Balls (Robot, Fire Truck & T-Rex)

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Kids will love playing outside with 4″ play balls featuring fun designs! Lightweight and durable, play balls can be used both indoors and out for games varying from four-square to kick ball!

2. Kidoozie Hop & Squeak Unicorn Foam Pogo Jumper

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Children will get their excursive bouncing up and down on their very own unicorns! Adding to the magic, each hop on the Hop & Squeak Unicorn Foam Pogo Jumper makes a magical sound.

3. OgoDisk RAQ

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These hand trampolines for balls are a great way to get kids outside and running as they work on fine motor skills to keep the ball bouncing between players. For added fun, use water balloons to cool off during the summer!

4. OGOBUILD Pod Kit

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Imaginations will soar with this awesome building kit! Children can create fun shapes to crawl through as they put their creativity to the test! This pod kit creates large, light-weight structures that can be kicked, spun, and thrown!

5. Playhut Mega Fun Playhouse

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The Mega Fun Playhouse includes a basketball, miniature basketball hoop, ball pit, and tunnels for children to crawl through! It makes for hours of street-free play as children burn off some of that energy while stuck indoors.

6. Diggin GoGo Pogo

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With a stable base and bright colors, the Electronic Multi-Game Pogo Bouncer helps children with counting, memory, sound recognition, music and more as they use their muscles to bounce up and down! It’s a great way to keep active while learning with five electronic games.

7. Red Bullet Balance Bike

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Put little feet to the ground and take off on the Red Bullet Balance Bike! This two-wheeler provides hours of fun as children build the necessary balance to ride.

8. Yoga CD

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Relax and flex those muscles by teaching your child yoga poses for daily life. Music will encourage exercise while building flexibility in children as they learn to slow down.

9. Little Tikes Push & Ride Racer

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Little ones will get a workout using this combination ride-on/push toy that encourages coordination and balance. A seat for teddy is even included on the back to take favorite toys on a ride!

10. Waboba® Lacrosse Set

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Start kids learning lacrosse early as they fall in love with a sport requiring hand-eye coordination, team work, and plenty of physical fitness! Lacrosse is a great way to have fun in the back yard and hone skills for team play later on.

We hope you enjoyed our toy selection and have fun with your children as you take in the sunny vibes of spring! Don’t miss our outdoor activities Pinterest board for even more ideas.

Sand and Water Inspiration for Spring

21 Apr

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It’s spring and with the sunny season comes plenty of opportunities for sand and water play. Whether you have a sand and water table or a sandbox outside, we have a few learning activities you can engage your children in to embrace spring time.

Sand and water tables provide added benefits, including the ability to bring outdoor elements inside when the weather isn’t cooperating! If you don’t have one yet and are considering what table would be best for your child, we have a few options we think you’ll enjoy:

4 Hands-on Activities for Spring!

1. Water Play! Bring it Onboard

What happens when objects are added to a floating jar boat? Children can compare the objects that sink their boats to objects that leave boats afloat.

Materials:

  • different weighted materials such as plastic or wooden spoons, rocks, fishing weights, corks and metal washers
  • plastic containers with lids, small plastic jars with lids
  • sand and water table or a large container filled with water

What to Do:

  1. Float a closed plastic jar on the water in front of your children. Talk about floating. Ask, “Do you have toys that float in the bathtub? What happens when you push them down to the bottom? Let’s pretend this is a boat and see what it can carry without sinking.”
  2. Remove the lid and place a large, heavy object in the jar. Say, “Let’s see what happens when we bring this onboard our boat.” The object should not be heavy enough to sink the jar, though it should make it noticeably lower in the water. Talk to your children about why.
  3. Select a heavier object that will sink the jar. Repeat the process of placing the jar in the water and discussing what happens when the boat sinks.
  4. Allow children to explore with several more objects and containers. Ask, “Which objects let the jar boat float and what sinks the boat?” Have children group the objects in these two categories and discuss size, weight, and material characteristics of the objects in the groups.

Challenge: Do the activity using only sand or water as a weight. Add varying amounts to identical jars. How much does it take to sink the jar? Challenge your children to keep track of how many scoops of sand they put in the jars.

Source: The Preschool Scientist 

 2. Water Play! Aluminum Foil Boats

Make boats from aluminum foil, and experiment with how to make them float and carry objects!

Related Books:

  • Boats by Anne Rockwell
  • Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham
  • Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen

Materials:

  • objects used as “passengers” or cargo in the boats, such as small plastic blocks, washers, or pennies
  • pieces of aluminum foil: 6” x 6” squares work well, but any size and shape can be used
  • sand and water table or a tub of water

What to Do:

  1. Talk with your child about what the word sink means. What might make a boat sink?
  2. Show your child a flat sheet of foil and a small toy. Talk about how you might make the foil into a boat so that the toy can ride in it.
  3. Create several boats, experimenting with different designs and testing each boat in the tub of water. Add animals or other toys to see what happens.
  4. Talk about your boats and what you noticed when you put “passengers” in each boat. Does it make a difference where you put the passengers? Can some boats carry more passengers than others? Does the shape or size of the boat make a difference?
  5. Test your ideas about boat designs by redesigning and floating many different boats.

Source: Where Does My Shadow Sleep: A Parent’s Guide to Exploring Science with Children’s Books 

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Kaplan Toys Suggestion: Looking for items to float in your boat? Try out My Buddies, the perfect companions for water play!

 3. Sand Play! Dinosaur Dig

Children will learn about colors and paleontologists as they dig for dinosaurs!

Materials:

  • laminating machine or clear contact paper in different colors
  • sand and water table or tub of sand
  • scissors

Preparation:

  • Cut dinosaur shapes out of different colored paper. Laminate or cover with clear contact paper.
  • Hide the paper dinosaurs in the sand.

What to Do:

Tell children that they are going to be a special kind of scientist called a paleontologist. Explain what they study and the history of life on Earth.

  1. If appropriate, ask each child to find a certain color dinosaur.
  2. Offer an additional challenge by cutting the dinosaur shapes into puzzle pieces that the children find and then put together, just as paleontologists put together the bones they find to re-create the bone structure of animals that once lived on our planet.

Source: Another Encyclopedia of Theme Activities for Young Children 

  1. Sand Play! Coloring and Mixing Sand

Have fun showing children how to paint sand, and then mix the sands to form new colors!

Materials:

  • containers for mixing sand and paint
  • pans for drying sand (one for each color)
  • resealable plastic bags, small
  • sand and water table full of sand
  • spoons
  • tempera paints
  • mixing spoons
  • permanent marker

Preparation:

Collect several containers of white sand, various tempera paints, and find a location where children can set the painted sand out to dry.

  1. Have each child make a color of sand using separate containers to mix each of the primary colors—red, yellow and blue.
  2. Help each child measure and pour 1-2 cups of sand into each container, and then pour 1/4 cup of wet or dry tempera paint into the containers. Explain to the children that they should add 1/2 cup of water for each cup of sand in their containers. Help children add water and paint as needed to help make a good rich color and a runny mixture. Mix well.
  3. Help children pour the colored sand onto the sand and water table to dry, and then place the table in a warm, sunny place. When the sand is dry, encourage the children to crumble the sand back into granular form. At this point, each child should have one container of red, yellow, and blue sand.
  4. Next, talk with children about the primary colors. Ask the children why they think we call them primary and explain that they help to make all other colors.
  5. Set out several mixing spoons and resealable plastic baggies. Invite the children to use the spoons to measure the colored sands carefully and combine spoonfuls of each in various plastic baggies. Tell children to use no more than three spoonfuls of each color of sand. Be sure children mix one or two spoonfuls of color with three spoonfuls of another color, so that they can see a variety of results.
  6. Help children record on the sides of the baggies the number of spoonfuls of each color of sand they add to each baggie, and then help the children seal the baggies.
  7. 18753groupInvite the children to shake the bags well to mix the colored sand and watch as a new, secondary color appears. Point out to the children how the grains of the primary colors are still visible in the secondary color.

Source: Science Adventures: Nature Activities for Young Children 

Kaplan Toys Suggestion: Find non-toxic tempera paint for coloring your sand here.

Want to show off your child’s sand and water creations? Share pictures with us on our Facebook page!

Building Budding Business Leaders

17 Mar

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Trying to promote business skills in your children while also not feeling like you’re stripping away the joy of childhood can be a real balancing act. However, many of the skills used in the office can be easily integrated into children’s everyday play. Here are four simple strategies you can focus on to raise budding business leaders while also having fun at the same time:

1. Promote financial literacy early on.

Understanding that items have value is an important life skill that children must grasp to succeed down the road. Encouraging financial literacy in the home can take many forms, but here are a few of our favorites:

  • Make Money! Series: Read about kids in true-to-life stories that teach how to work through trial and error to pursue business plans. The series includes washing cars, pet sitting, yard work, and running a lemonade stand! The books are a great way to give children ideas about their own business.
  • Teach personal responsibility by offering children ways to earn income so that they can save for future purchases. This could include chores, running a lemonade stand, or even opening a bank account to save birthday money.
  • Focus on goal setting. Encourage the exploration of future business ideas and how they can see those ideas come to fruition through investment, savings, and hard work. Be sure you’re also celebrating when those goals are met!

2. Accept failure as a part of the learning process.

Children are going to face failures at one point or another; preparing them for it early on is a great way to teach future business skills. Many times schools teach failure as a bad thing, whereas at home, you can encourage your children to view them as chances to grow! When your child makes a mistake, take time to sit down with him or her to discuss which factors led to the failure and then brainstorm ways to prevent it from happening again. Seeing opportunity is a great alternative to dwelling in despair and will help children when they face obstacles in the future.

3. Give children the opportunity to lead.

Being put in a position of leadership is a great way for children to practice effective communication, work toward a common goal, and listen to ideas from others. Invite children’s peers to your house and allow your child to lead in sports, book clubs, or small business projects. Playing host will make children accustomed to leading others. Also, encouraging small token acts, like giving a small toast before family birthday parties or dinners, can give children practice in public speaking.

4. Teach children how to give back.

One important lesson of being a business leader is knowing how to give back to both the employees and the community. Encourage your children to think about how their business can better the lives of others. Part of being a successful business owner is being humble enough to allow great successes to provide benefits to more than just the owner. Volunteering is a great way to allow children to develop the characteristic of helping others. The Busy Family’s Guide to Volunteering is a great tool for getting started. For even more ideas on how to make time to get your children involved in the community, check out this related blog post: http://blog.kaplantoys.com/2014/08/19/3-tips-for-finding-time-to-volunteer-as-a-family/

We want to hear from you! How do you promote early business skills in your children? Share by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

Resources:

Celebrating Teddy Bear Day with Toddlers

9 Sep

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It’s National Teddy Bear Day and boy do we have some fun choices for toddlers to celebrate with as they learn! Stuffed animals are not only a great way for babies and smaller children to develop motor skills, but they also provide a cuddly companion! Here is a little breakdown of how the teddy bear came to be:

Fun Fact:

After President Theodore Roosevelt refused to shoot an injured bear on a hunting trip in Mississippi, political cartoonists began associating the image of a small bear with the president. A New York candy shop owner, Morris Michtom, saw the cartoon in 1902 and obtained permission from Roosevelt to start advertising his stuffed toy bears as “Teddy’s bears.” The concept caught on quickly!

Now that you know the origin of the teddy bear, it’s time to pick one out for your toddler! There are many educational benefits to teddies, including building fine and gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and providing stability through plush playmates! Here are a few of the teddy options we have so that toddlers can learn as they celebrate:

Teddy Wear Toddler Learning Toy

There’s nothing like having a teddy to dress up! Not only will children learn self-care and refine their grasps, but they will also learn from a mixture of textures, buckles, and zippers for varied sensory input. The bear is sure to be a cuddly match for your child’s emerging skills!

Corduroy

Celebrate Teddy Bear Day with one of the most beloved teddies around: Corduroy! This fun paperback also comes with a CD so that you can listen alongside toddlers as they learn early literacy skills by following the story of a department store teddy who hunts for his missing button and finds something even more rewarding!

Small Chubby Bear

If you are looking for your baby’s first bear, the Kaloo selections are plush and cuddly! The softness will comfort babies as they clutch their small, chubby bears. They also have great colors for visual stimuli!

Small Panda Hand Puppet

Looking for an international spin? Who doesn’t love a panda! This charming hand puppet has the traditional black and white fur and sports soft plastic claws for a realistic look. Legs and mouth also open for dramatic play!

Classic Paddington Bear 10”

Remember Mr. and Mrs. Brown and their discovery of Paddington Bear at London’s Paddington Station? Well, now children can play with him along with his classic ensemble of a bright red hat, dark blue outfit, and sunny yellow rain boots! Comes with the tag, “Please look after this bear. Thank you.” to encourage responsibility.

Backpack Bears with Sorting Bowls

Who knew you could teach math with teddies? The Backpack Bears encourage matching, math skills, color recognition, and logic thinking skills as children sort colored teddies into appropriate bowls.

We hope you found a perfect teddy for your toddler! For even more learning opportunities with teddy bears, check out the rest of our selection here.

Resource:
http://www.theodoreroosevelt.org/site/c.elKSIdOWIiJ8H/b.8684621/k.6632/Real_Teddy_Bear_Story.htm

Party in the Pool with Your Kids!

18 Jun

shutterstock_160577036 Is it just us, or is it hot outside? There’s nothing like breaking in the summer with your children by engaging in water play. Pools are great places to not only cool off but also allow children to learn! Here are few ideas to make your party in the pool an educational one:

1. Water Fun Set

141728a Work on kids’ hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills as they toss a foam ball back and forth with two springy paddles! See how many times they can hit it back and forth before it hits the water.

2. Scoop and Pour Tug Boats

30135 Engage young children in learning how to fill tug boats and pour out water. They’ll have a blast steering floating boats around the pool. Encourage children to swim in the same direction around the pool to create a current their boats can float on!

3. Waterworks Play Kit

16378 Boats and corks for floating, sea animals for swimming, cups for measuring, and sponge numbers for counting—all included in the Waterworks Play Kit for endless water fun!

4. WaterBlocks Super Set (35 Pieces)

62364 Bring classic block play to the pool! Encourage building in young kids with water runs, ball runs, waterfalls and more with our floating WaterBlocks Super Set. Children can explore math concepts, structure and balance with sticky blocks that are bound to make for interesting structures straight from your child’s imagination!

Don’t have access to a pool?

91111 Check out our Grub Scouts’ Sprinkler! It’s perfect for engaging young children in active play as they jump over friendly grubs! Sprinklers are always a fun alternative to pools when looking for ways to cool off for the summer.

-Finally, you can’t have a perfect pool day without ending it with a Cool Summer Smoothie! Check out the recipe below for a refreshing snack your kids will love!

Cool Summer Smoothie

Ingredients

  • Milk
  • Vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt
  • Crushed ice
  • Fresh fruit or fruit juice
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Blender

What to do:

  1. Blend 2 cups ice cream or yogurt, 1 cup crushed ice, 1 cup orange juice and milk as needed to thin the drink out.
  2. Add food coloring, if desired.
  3. Enjoy a cool orange smoothie.
  4. Substitute various fruits or fruit juices to make different smoothie flavors. Enjoy!

For even more great ideas like the smoothie above, check out “The GIANT Encyclopedia of Monthly Activities.” 

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